A teenager killed in a hit-and-run near the estate belonging to convicted murderer Alex Murdaugh will have his body exhumed.
The body belongs to Stephen Smith, who was killed in 2015 in what appeared to be a hit-and-run accident near the infamous Murdaugh estate. According to NBC News, agents with the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) said that Alex Murdaugh’s conviction for the double murder of his wife and son has renewed interest in several mysterious deaths in the area, Stephen Smith being chief among them. Smith’s mother, Sandy, raised $43,000 on her GoFundMe page fairly quickly in order to exhume the body of her son.
SLED said it would be further investigating Smith’s death “based upon information gathered during the course of the double murder investigation.” Per NBC News:
Investigators said in 2015 that it appeared Smith, 19, was hit by a vehicle while standing outside of his car after it had run out of gas, reported NBC affiliate WCBD in Charleston. The incident occurred in Hampton County, about 15 miles from the Murdaugh property known as Moselle.
Initially, Smith was found with a “defensive wound” on his hand, according to an investigator’s report obtained by The Island Packet, and a homicide investigation was opened. However, the case became jumbled when a medical examiner later wrote in a report that Smith’s cause of death was the result of being struck in the head by a car mirror, part of an apparent hit-and-run.
But neither glass nor debris from a car were found where Smith’s body was located or in the immediate area, The Island Packet reported.
South Carolina Highway Patrol investigators claim that they received tips saying that Alex Murdaugh’s one surviving son, Buster, had some connection to Stephen Smith’s death. The two graduated from the same high school in Hampton County in 2014.
Sandy Smith believes that her son did not die by a hit-and-run and that he may have been beaten based on the way his body appeared. She also called for an independent exhumation and autopsy, believing that the original medical facility falsely characterized her son’s death as a hit-and-run “despite no evidence to support it.”
“We feel it’s critical to seek a new goal – an independent exhumation and autopsy – and we’re launching Justice for Stephen N. Smith with that immediate goal in mind. While the state can elect and fund an exhumation and new autopsy, it is our understanding that it would be carried out at MUSC, where his death was initially classified as hit-and-run despite no evidence to support it,” said the GoFundMe page.
“We need a new, unbiased look at his body and an accurate determination of his cause of death based on facts. There was no debris in the road, and his injuries were not consistent with a hit-and-run,” it added.